Critique embodies sharp contrasts. The man is modelled according to the strictest rules of anatomy, since he is drawn from a live model, and so marks a contrast with the other figures of the piece, which are two-dimensional, outlined in white. The man's dark skin has the rough texture of lava rock, which makes him even more outlandish, as if he has wandered by mistake into this chaotic dream-world where everything is in motion. The white being brandishes a whip, the couple dances, and beings with spears march on, the die spins in the air, the fish wriggles in the hand of the man, who at the same time appears to be struggling to prevent the rock from falling on him.
The symbolism of the piece is complicated and personal with some religious references, but the basic elements seem to be the existential problem of the artist whose livelihood depends upon art, yet who also has to deal with constant criticism of his work; it appears that the weight of the material is about to crush the freedom of the spirit. The work took several years to complete and was first displayed in October 1954 at Listamannaskálinn gallery in Reykjavík.